Senator Jeff Markley  (D) Oregon is on it, and has demanded  “USDA must move forward quickly with its investigation to determine how genetically engineered wheat arrived in this farmer’s field, and provide clear guidance to the wheat farmers throughout the Northwest to ensure that their product is marketable and meets the specifications of their customers. In order to put the appropriate measures in place before the upcoming wheat harvest, USDA must provide this guidance within the next 10 days.”
Merkley also noted that “this incident underscores the need for an agency review of field-testing practices to determine how to avoid this situation in the future.”
Note: Merkley led an effort last week to repeal the “Monsanto Protection Act,” a rider quietly and anonymously dropped into a must-pass spending bill in March that stripped federal courts of their ability to require more thorough safety review for some genetically modified seeds.
Two amendments related to genetically modified crops and specifically to the Monsanto Company made news in Washington as lawmakers continue to work on a new five-year farm bill.
One of the measures, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), sought to ensure that individual states would have the ability to enforce their own laws related to special labels for foods containing genetically modified products also known as GMOs.
Thursday, May 23, Senators defeated that amendment by a vote of 27-71.
The world is also not happy that Monsanto, with a history of questionable ethics practices and close ties to the government (FDA, USDA, EPA, lobbyists and a Supreme Court Judge) has received protection from future trouble. Slipped into a bill signed by President Barack Obama back in March is something called the “Monsanto Protection Act” which would shield Monsanto seeds and other GMO crops approved by the USDA to be grown – even if there is action in the courts against them. Another major reason for the march is what is happening to commercial farmers around the globe. Monsanto’s patents on plant seeds no longer allows farmers to save and grow their own seeds, requiring them to buy new from Monsanto every year. If farmers attempt to grow their own heirloom varieties, they are sued by the corporate giant and there is increasing pressure for them to grown only GMO seeds. The extreme costs of farming this way has forced closure of many farmers across America and thousands of documented suicides by farmers in India.
Another reason for the march pertains to environmental concerns about the toxicity of pesticides and herbicides and their effects on nature, especially noticeable is the colony collapse disorder of pollinating honey bees. When colonies collapse due to dying honey bees, we will see fewer and fewer varieties of fruits, vegetables and nuts. The European Nation has banned the pesticides which they attribute to colony collapse disorder but as of yet the U.S. has not.
In a statement, the Center for Food Safety called on regulators to suspend all field trials of genetically modified crops, saying: "Our farmers and food supply are severely jeopardized by such contamination episodes, yet the biotech industry responsible faces no accountability."